Volunteers are the heart of NPH USA. Enjoy this reflection from Kailyn Kenney on her recent experience at NPH Honduras.
Over the past several months I have been teaching new arrivals at the “The Ranch” in a special “leveling classroom” at the school. Most of the new additions to our family enter my classroom and remain there for two months, studying math and Spanish concepts until they are evaluated and placed into a grade level appropriate to their age and capabilities. For me, this time that I have shared with my students has been so much more then reviewing verb conjugations or multiplication tables. I have had the unique opportunity of spending my days with a small group of students and felt that I was able to give them a lot of individual attention during a time when they are very vulnerable, and are at risk of getting lost in the hustle and bustle of busy Ranch life.
I have been blessed with the opportunity of seeing very hurt and lost children come into my classroom looking broken, only to emerge after a few months of love and attention into bright, caring, and most importantly happy members of our family. Just to be able to show my students that someone loves them and cares about them, is willing to be patient with them when they make mistakes and forgive them when they misbehave, makes their entire world.
Trying to undo the cycle of poverty and violence here in Honduras begins with offering each of these children the opportunity of an education that the majority of them would never have had otherwise. I could not believe my ignorance when I realized that many of the students, whether 8 or 13 years old, didn’t even know a single letter of the alphabet. I have been equally unprepared for many of their questions that haven’t been as easy to answer as which letter comes after A. My students ask me how we can be a family when they are here and their mother is not. They are amazed to find out that I have loving parents who raised me and an entire NPH family. I am astonished at how quickly they trust me, and how patient my students are with me when the first “gringa” that they have ever known is teaching them Spanish and trying her hardest to not make too many grammatical mistakes herself.
My students have taught me that it’s okay to show your vulnerabilities, because some days I just miss my family too, and if I can show them that we are all in this together we will all feel less alone and afraid. These kids come here with the same sorrow worn on the faces of children that one sees on the streets of Tegucigalpa and the weight of the world on their shoulders. But through the love given to them at The Ranch, they begin to find hope and happiness in their struggles. Through my days singing the ABC’s to my students they have taught me the truly transformational power of love and the meaning of family.